By David Karas | Correspondent
Shannon Jones, a senior in Donovan Catholic High School and a member of St. Dominic Parish, Brick, plans to pursue a career in medicine.
So when she learned of the opportunity to hear from dozens of speakers – including several Nobel Laureates, the dean of Georgetown University’s Medical School, and the physician who decoded the human genome – she jumped.
Jones was one of several students who represented diocesan high schools at the annual Congress of Future Medical Leaders, held this summer in Boston.
“There were motivational speakers, teen science prodigies, life coaches, and even educational consultants to mentor us about attending the colleges that we choose,” said Jones. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to be mentored by people who are at the top of their field, all presenting within a three day period at the congress.”
The congress featured a host of accomplished speakers, the chance to observe live surgeries through a feed and ask questions of the surgeon in real time, all during the operation.
“We were able to learn and ask questions about ground-breaking procedures, for example from the surgeon who performed the full human face transplant and his patient, the surgeon who implanted the bionic eye and his patient, and the first American Doctor to recover from Ebola and his experiences,” said Jones.
Sponsored by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, the Congress is attended by high-achieving high school students with a GPA of at least 3.5 who are nominated either by the academy or their teachers.
“We believe it is unacceptable that so many of America’s highest potential students never fulfill their dream of entering the medical profession because they lack resources, direction, self-confidence or guidance,” the program states.
The Congress closes with delegates receiving awards of achievement, and continues after they leave. All participants are entered into a free program that provides mentorship, resources, direction and a network of connections to help them continue on their journey towards a career in medicine and science.
Donovan Catholic senior Rebecca Rosenberg, who also participated in the congress, was similarly motivated to attend when she saw the range of speakers who would be addressing delegates.
“It was an honor to be in the same room with the men and women who spoke; they all had a unique and important message and I was inspired by their knowledge and wisdom,” said Rosenbeg, a member of st. Joseph Parish, Toms River. “Some of the younger speakers, many of whom had won major science fairs or conducted groundbreaking medical research, were even more fascinating because many of them were just like me.”
During the Congress, Rosenberg realized that her main area of interest lies in the research and technological advancement aspect of medicine – a realization that has spurred her to explore biomedical engineering programs as she prepares to begin her college career.
Rosenberg also submitted an audition video in advance of the Congress, and was invited to sing the National Anthem during the opening ceremony.
Julianna Adornetti, a senior in Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville and member of St. Joseph Parish, Millstone, said that her interest in pursuing a career in medicine became stronger as she took anatomy and physiology courses.
"The Congress was very eye-opening, (and) I realized there are various areas of medicine that I can study," she said.
Other delegates hailing from the Diocese of Trenton included Maritza Baker, a junior in Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, and a member of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton. Noting that she was struck by the host of speakers lined up for the congress, she said, “I wanted to participate because I always knew I wanted to become a doctor, (though) I was just never clear on the specialty. Now I know exactly what I want to specialize in.”
Baker’s guidance counselor, Lisa Ford, commented on how honored TCA was “to have a student who is as motivated and ambitious as Maritza here at Trenton Catholic Academy.”
“Maritza continues to impress with participating in activities, which will better prepare her for a prospective career in medicine,” said Ford.